Guest Post: Leviticus 1 – The Sound of Sacrifice

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

Today’s guest post comes to us from Ben Emerson, whose blog—The Whole Dang Thing—is a light-hearted, epic journey through the entire Bible. I subscribed a few months ago, and have really enjoyed Ben’s short, funny, and insightful posts about some of the Bible’s most obscure passages. Having studied some of these passages as part of my “biblical womanhood project,” it’s fun to read a guy’s take on them. 

When Ben isn't working on his blog, he works for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Oregon State University with his lovely fiancé, Andrea. They are getting hitched in November! He is a big fan of U2, Stephen Colbert, and Andrea's cooking. 

I asked Ben to share a sample post, so you can get an idea of what he’s doing.  So here’s his idea for a fun way to remember the content of Leviticus 1: 


Leviticus 1 is a list of instructions on how to present a burnt offering to the LORD. There are three types of offerings described: bulls, sheep (or goats), and birds. Each one ends with pretty much the same phrase. 

Then the priest shall turn the whole into smoke on the altar as a burnt offering, an offering by fire of pleasing odor to the LORD. 

Why would that repeat three times? Of what benefit is there in ending each section with the same phrase? 

It makes it memorable. Almost like a song with a repeated chorus

Which makes total sense for an oral culture. 

But it is still hard for us to get into Leviticus because the songish nature doesn’t translate well.

Fear not my friends! I have decided to help us all out by transforming a certain memorable song into these basic instructions for bringing a burnt offering. So the next time you want to have a BBQ for the LORD but can’t remember how to do it, just sing this little diddy and everything will fall neatly into place. 

Oh, sing it to the tune of “Do-Re-Mi” from The Sound of Music. We are going to change the title to “Find a Bull.”  

You want to bring an off’ring
Of livestock to the LORD
From you flocks and herds of hair and wool
What you must do is find a bull (find a bull)
Find a Bull
If your atonement’s to be full
Find a bull (find a bull)
Find a bull or sheep or birrrrrd . . . 

Find a Bull, unblemished bull
Slaughter it before the LORD.
Dash the blood against the stone
Flay and cut it into parts
The head and suet go on the woooooooood
Wash the entrails and the legs
Turn the whole thing into smoke
A burnt off’ring for the LOR-OR-OR-ORD 

(repeat but replace “bull” with “goat”) 

Catch a dove, a turtledove
Have the priest rip off its head
Drain the blood against the stone
Throw the craw and all within
Where the ashes are to go
Tear it open by the wings
Turn the whole thing into smoke
A burnt off’ring for the LOR-OR-OR-ORD 

You’re welcome! Now go and teach this to your children. They will thank you for it later. I promise. 

Two questions for you:

Did I just ruin The Sound of Music for you forever? What have you found helpful in getting through the tough parts of the Bible like Leviticus?

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